countries, regardless of government policy, until a markedly higher level of overall economic development has been attained. In other countries in which mortality is still relatively high, governmental policies could bring about a sharp decline in future years. In these countries a drop in death rates may be an essential precondition for a marked reduction in fertility. Fertility and mortality policies are linked. The reduction of fertility is likely also to reduce both infant-child and maternal mortality, and a sufficient reduction of infant and child mortality may be necessary for reduced fertility.
Policies to Reduce Fertility
Time must pass before any development policy can accomplish its objectives. However, different government policies take different amounts of time before their impact is felt.
Time Horizon of Fertility Control Policies. The time spans over which governmental policies to reduce fertility can be expected to have a major influence on population size will generally be longer than the times required for other kinds of development policies (such as investments in natural resources, import substitution, increasing agricultural yields, electrification, and certain kinds of industrialization) to accomplish their objectives. However, the cumulative impact of a policy of fertility reduction, compared with maintenance of present fertility rates, can be very significant over periods of 10 to 20 years. Moreover, the difficulties of undertaking a policy of fertility reduction in a country with a high rate of population growth increase rapidly as time passes. Many more families will need to be involved to obtain a percentage reduction in fertility in future years equal to that which is now attainable with a smaller reproducing population.
In general, policies to reduce fertility have about the same time horizon as other policies designed to improve the quality of human resources, such as education, infant and child health, and welfare services. In drawing up the government budget, setting priorities, allocating administrative manpower, and deciding on alternative uses of resources, fertility policies should be considered in connection with other human resource policies.
Successful policies of fertility reduction will have a delayed impact on some aspects of social and economic development. For example, 5 to 6 years will elapse before a reduction in the number of births will be reflected in a smaller number of children entering primary schools. As we explained earlier, the size of the labor force will not be affected for about 15 years. The rate of family formation and the consequent needs for housing will begin to be lower at about the same time. The full impact on food needs will be delayed until the smaller numbers of children have reached later adolescence (15 to 19 years of age) and their nutritional needs are at a maximum.